• Jonathan Widran

DOUG MACDONALD AND THE L.A. ALL-STAR OCTET

If you’re trying to find a specific album from the vast, ever-growing catalog of the brilliant veteran guitarist Doug MacDonald on the streaming services, good luck. He’s so prolific and works with so many different partners and assembled ensembles – totally a grand, exciting thing – that you’ll have to look at any given time under “Doug MacDonald,” “Doug MacDonald Band,” “Doug MacDonald Trio,” “The Doug MacDonald Quartet” and now, offering a grand showcase to his equally versatile, hip, stylish and swinging fellow Angelenos, “Doug MacDonald and the L.A. All-Star Octet” on his latest, exuberantly presented, horn-fired excursion Overtones.

Featuring a stylistically diverse set of mostly dazzling originals – the lone exception being a dreamy, meditational mood setting spin on “Lover Man” – the eight track set extends an incredibly prolific roll for MacDonald that includes just in the past year, Toluca Lake Jazz, Crosstown Collaboration, Live in Hawaii and Serenade to Highland Park.


Hopefully, being released among all of that multi-faceted brilliance won’t take any love or attention away from Overtones, which finds MacDonald bandleading and soloing with his usual brisk cool and funky crackle while leading the likes of saxophonists Kim Richmond and Rickey Woodard, trumpeter Aaron Janik, trombonist Ira Nepus, acoustic piano wizard Bill Cunliffe, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Roy McCurdy through a spirited set full of straight ahead romps (“Night By Night,” “Ground Up”), a snappy, sassy “Blues by Eight,” a lyrical waltz (“Hortense”), festive horn funk (“Over #21”) and even a hard swinging tune literally named after its prominent soloist (“Rickey Speaking”).


If recent history holds, the ever exploring MacDonald will be on to another lineup quickly. But this one is such a blast that hopefully we can convince him to gather this troop of West Coast stalwarts at least one more time.